Nokia 7 Plus review: The perfect mid-range smartphone

First unveiled at MWC 2018 in Barcelona, the Nokia 7 Plus was positioned as the mid-range device in HMD Global’s 2018 portfolio of Nokia phones. A couple of months down the track and here is our full Nokia 7 Plus review.

After the pitch of “pure and up-to-date Android” last year, the company has now adopted Android One across the board. The trusted stock Android experience, combined with a competent specifications sheet makes the Nokia 7 Plus seem well-rounded on paper.

With a host of new releases, the Nokia brand is having a resurgence under new custodian HMD Global, generating a lot of consumer attention in the process. Is the Nokia 7 Plus the device to translate that interest into sales?

For this review, I took the Indian variant of the Nokia 7 Plus for a spin. My colleague, Adam Sinicki, used the same unit to shoot the video review in the UK.Show More

Design

Nokia 7 plus in hand

The Nokia 7 Plus scores high on aesthetics. It exudes class and looks gorgeous. The phone’s copper accents — the strip running along the edges, the buttons, and the rings around the camera module and fingerprint scanner — make it really stand out.

The Nokia 7 Plus features an 18:9 display which dominates the front of the phone, with just a small chin at the bottom and Nokia branding on the bezel on the top. The rounded edges make the phone nice and comfortable to grip. The soft matte finish and ceramic coating on the back give it a nice tactile feel which will help prevent the phone from slipping out of your hand.

The camera module protrudes slightly from the back, but the copper trim would likely protect the lenses from picking up scratches.

Built from a single block of series 6000 aluminum, the Nokia 7 Plus feels solid and well built. At 183 grams, it’s a little hefty, but the weight is distributed quite well.

Overall, the Nokia 7 Plus is a well-built smartphone that looks more premium than its price would indicate. It will no doubt have a lot of people gawking in a coffee shop.

Display

Nokia 7 plus display

The Nokia 7 Plus sports a 6-inch IPS LCD Full HD+ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and a pixel density of 402ppi. It is the first device in the Nokia portfolio to adopt the newer trend of taller displays.

Overall, the display is pretty good. It’s quite vivid and the viewing angles are great. For an LCD, the blacks are so deep you’d almost mistake it for an OLED panel. If you prefer more true-to-life colors, you might find the Nokia 7 Plus slightly oversaturated. Personally, I quite like it. Unfortunately, the display is not too bright, so sunlight legibility is not exceptional, though it’s not terrible.

The touch response on the Nokia 7 Plus is perfect and running your thumb across the display while scrolling provides insatnt feedback. There’s also Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for scratch protection.

Performance

Nokia 7 plus buttons and back

Powered by the freshly minted octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset with Adreno 512 GPU, the Nokia 7 Plus packs in 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, expandable up to 256GB with a microSD card. With only default apps running in the background, there’s 2.7GB of RAM available at any point.

The Snapdragon 660 is one of the most powerful SoCs for mid-range smartphones out there, managing flagship-grade performance on a budget by using Kryo 260 cores manufactured with the 14nm FinFET process.

That horsepower combined with stock Android makes the Nokia 7 Plus a solid performer. It can take anything you throw at it without breaking a sweat. It can handle graphics-intensive games at max settings without heating up, even when playing games for an extended length of time.

The Snapdragon 660 is a powerful and frugal processor that makes the Nokia 7 Plus a solid performer.

The Nokia 7 Plus packs in a massive 3,800mAh battery which will easily last a day and a half of moderate usage. Even with my aggressive usage, I managed to carry it through the day with about 20 percent juice still left after dinner. In our standard HD video loop test, it managed over 13 hours.

Once the battery does run out, the Nokia 7 Plus supports Quick Charge 3.0 fast charging. The bundled charger can charge the phone from zero to 100 percent in less than two hours, which is pretty good for a high capacity battery. The phone does get a little hot while charging.

At its price point, the Nokia 7 Plus packs solid innards and outperforms most smartphones with older Snapdragon 600-series processors. It can easily handle the daily grind for most users and offers a smooth Android experience.

Hardware

Nokia 7 Plus from the back

One of the less talked about features of the Nokia 7 Plus is its spatial audio capture with three microphones which is quite useful for content creators and people who record a lot of videos.

The Nokia 7 Plus is a dual-SIM device, sporting a hybrid tray slot so you can either use two nano-SIMs or a nano-SIM and a microSD card.

The fingerprint scanner on the back works reasonably fast, although it is positioned a little too high for my tastes. If you have small hands, you’re likely to have a little trouble reaching it comfortably.

Camera

Nokia 7 plus camera and finger scanner

The Nokia 7 Plus uses a dual camera setup on the back with Zeiss optics. There’s a 12MP primary lens with f/1.75 aperture and 1.4µm pixel size paired with a 13MP telephoto lens with f/2.6 aperture and 1.0µm pixel size.

The Nokia 7 Plus camera manages to take some great images in daylight with crisp colors and a good amount of detail. The camera often took a bit of time to focus though and action shots came out blurred.

For portraits or bokeh shots, the telephoto lens blurs out the background nicely and the edge detection is quite good. The telephoto lens offers a 2x lossless optical zoom while there’s also 10x digital zoom if you need it.

In low light conditions, some noise does creep in. But thanks to the f/1.75 aperture, the camera manages to capture a good amount of light. Using the Pro mode and fine-tuning the settings gives much better results. The dual-tone LED flash is not overpowering and helps maintain natural skin tone and white balance.

On the front, there’s a 16MP camera with f/2.0 aperture and Zeiss optics. Most selfies have pretty good color reproduction and enough detail to keep your social feeds happy. The beautification mode has a slider to adjust for the level of vanity you can digest.

Nokia 7 plus camera interface

The rear camera supports 4K video recording at 30fps (the front camera supports 1080p video recording). There’s no optical image stabilization, and the automatic electronic image stabilization works only in 1080p mode. But it works quite well, and combined with the OZO audio technology with spatial recording capabilities, the Nokia 7 Plus manages to capture some great videos. 

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The camera app on the Nokia 7 Plus is similar to the one Nokia introduced with the Lumia series back in the day. It offers an intuitive way to fine-tune the settings while looking at the results in real time. There’s also the dual-sight mode, previously marketed as a “bothie,” which lets you take shots or record and stream videos using both front and rear cameras simultaneously. It’s an interesting option for vloggers or if you have kids and pets at home but is pretty pointless for most others.

The camera on the Nokia 7 Plus is pretty good, but it’s not perfect. One expects a little more spark in the camera department on a Nokia phone. That said, there are no showstopping issues and it’s a pretty good camera at its price –  and there’s nothing that cannot be improved with a software update or two.

Software

The Nokia 7 Plus comes with stock Android 8.1 Oreo with support for Project Treble. There are no customizations and no bloatware of any kind. It’s a minimalist Android experience out of the box. The Android One device will also get regular security updates as well as an upgrade to Android P.

Nokia 7 plus software screenshots

HMD Global has a good track record for delivering updates like clockwork across its entire portfolio, so a Nokia phone is the best deal apart from the Pixel devices for fans of a pure and up-to-date Android experience.

Specifications

Display6.0-inch LCD
2,160 x 1,080 resolution (Full HD+)
403ppi
18:9 aspect ratio
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 660
(64-bit octa-core, 2.2GHz)
GPUAdreno 512
RAM4GB
Storage64GB
CamerasRear: Dual 12MP and 13MP telephoto with PDAF and Carl Zeiss optics

Front: 13MP f/2.0

Battery3,800mAh
IP ratingIP54
SoftwareAndroid 8.0 Oreo
Dimensions158.4 x 75.6 x 7.9mm

Gallery

Pricing and final thoughts

Nokia 7 plus

The Nokia 7 Plus is a well-rounded mid-range smartphone with a very capable specifications sheet, no-frills Android experience, and good-looking chassis. You’d be hard-pressed to find a flaw with this device, really.

Nokia 7 Plus is a well-rounded package that offers the right amalgamation of performance and aesthetics.

At 25,999 rupees (~$387) in India, some of my media colleagues at the launch said that it was priced a tad high — I disagree. There’s a justifiable premium for visual appeal and dependable hardware that comes in a package with an overall finesse. For me, the Nokia 7 Plus has just the right mix of performance and aesthetics. In a segment that’s usually under-served, the Nokia 7 Plus deserves the crown.